DIAMOND HEAD THEATRE / BRAD GODA
Don Richards as Mercedes, left, Andrew Sakaguchi as Hanna, and Justin Hashimoto as Clo-Clo star in Diamond Head Theatre's production of "La Cage Aux Folles."
Ask deftly portrays role’s torment in ‘La Cage’
Bad theater bludgeons the audience through a series of emotional ups and downs. Good theater makes the journey voluntary. With John Rampage as director, and Randl Ask starring as Albin, Diamond Head Theatre's production "La Cage Aux Folles" is very good theater indeed.
'La Cage Aux Folles'
» Place: Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave.
» On stage: 8 p.m. Thursday and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 4 p.m. Sundays, though June 4
» Tickets: $12-$42, with discounts for students, military and seniors
» Call: 733-0274 or visit diamondheadtheatre.com
Rampage presents the ever-popular musical as a light but touching love story. Ask transcends the obvious issues of sexual orientation by playing Albin with a sense of humanity that makes the familiar character more than a stereotypical transvestite.
The story is a variation of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Albin and Georges have been together for more than 20 years. Georges owns a big-budget transvestite revue in St. Tropez. Albin, known professionally at Zaza, is the show's multitalented star. Their relationship hits a rough spot when Jean-Michel, the result of Georges' only experiment with heterosexual sex, tells them he is getting married and wants to bring his fiancée, Anne, and her parents over for dinner.
The problem is that Anne's father, Edouard Dindon, is a homophobic politician whose campaign platform includes closing down transvestite revues.
Jean-Michel is confident that his father can pass himself off as heterosexual long enough to fool Dindon, but demands for the sake of his love for Anne that Albin, the only "mother" he has ever known, move out of the apartment so that his long-lost biological mother can pretend to be Georges' wife.
Albin is crushed, but agrees to go.
Ask is superb throughout. He eloquently portrays Albin's emotional torment in several scenes without saying a word and displays impressive skill as a physical comedian in several others.
Ask plays Albin's alter ego, Zaza, with equal versatility and verve. A show-within-a-show segment in which Zaza impersonates several drag queen icons succeeds on several levels. Ask also makes the show's anthem, "I Am What I Am," a powerful statement of defiance on the level of "I Will Survive."
Laurance Paxton reaffirms his place as one of the top leading men in local theater with his performance as Georges. Paxton and Ask mesh perfectly in scenes that show Georges and Albin reaching out and working together to heal the wounds caused by Jean-Michel's request. Paxton's comic talents add to the show as well.
Sean Jones (Jean-Michel) and Maile Krienke (Anne) are well-matched at the young couple, and Twan Matthews is an instant hit as Albin's flamboyant "maid."